Chaplin’s films will soon celebrate their centennial. They have been digitalized and preserved, so that we, mere guardians of trivial secrets of mankind, can continue to love that vagabond who jumped in and out of poverty as easily as jumping into shoes too big for his feet, slightly confused, with his pockets turned inside out. Not like us, angry and constipated.
The screen already presented Cretinetti and Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, Marx Brothers, Totò and Tati, Sellers, The Monty Python, Roberto Benigni and @SteveMartinToGo! The comedy as Chaplin saw it was maturing, through wandering paths, and shadows of civilization, but ever so closer to the Intelligence of the World, which stands as the only weapon against secrets, riddles, mysteries, deceptions, forgeries, fool’s gold and woes.
In the end, we might still be naive in our belief that escaping into something or from something will bear fruit. That is why I chose Charlie’s “City Lights” from 1931. where contrast between poverty and wealth is dramatized to the point of ridicule, which remains a universal and eternal trait. Today, nothing is different; the poor endure and the rich get richer. However, noble principles of just affections toward the good will, I trust, fill the hearts of the audience 80 years later, and under City Lights the thrones of worldly secrets will shake.
The audience will have a chance to see “Bringing Up Baby" (Howard Hawks, 1938), "Lo siecco bianco" (Federico Fellini, 1952) and “The Seven Year Itch” (Billy Wilder, 1955). All these films have a secret in common. The way it’s been kept and eventually revealed, whether it’s a secret of a poor vagabond, a beast tamed as a pet, an unprofessed love towards a character from a photo-novel or a vow of fidelity broken, are all nothing more than another concealment waiting to be revealed. That is the game we’ve been admiring for the last one hundred years and will continue to do so for another hundred.
The secrets of a wealthy married woman in "Belle de Jour" (Luis Buñuel, 1967) and a pretty waitress in "Chungking Express" (Kar Wai Wong, 1994) are quite special and are there to remind us of some personal secrets which are kept or have been kept by our viewers, persisting in the hope that their secret will one day disappear.
Faced with the unveilings in these films, where a secret can be revealed without consequences and even ridiculed, the audience will agree that it is the best kind of laughter, for it turns on itself. After all, in a spectacular closing of Pasolini’s “I racconti di Canterbury” the Devil himself confessed to the ridicule of the imprisoned pristes.
So, remember your secrets, at least one of them – sticky fingers, dirty underwear, broken glasses, the older the better, and be prepared to stand in line for The Intelligence of the Smiling World. Welcome to Pedja’s Film Collection.